Training News

More Tips from ATD 2016: Successful Compliance Training

In yesterday’s Advisor, we learned about important leadership levers discussed at the annual Association for Talent Development (ATD) Conference and Exposition held recently in Denver, Colorado. Today we have more advice from ATD, and this time we’re discussing the habits of highly successful compliance training.

Steven Rients of BAE Systems, Inc., framed his presentation around security training and handling of sensitive company information, but it can apply to all compliance training. When it comes to compliance training, says Rients, could anything be more boring? Too often, the training is a matter of “Do this, don’t do that.”

So, the most important thing when it comes to compliance training, says Rients, is to give trainees the “Why.” Refresher training is there because we forget (and also, it’s required). Complacency happens. If instructors aren’t fun and don’t address the purpose of training, they will be dead in the water.

Rients asked the audience, have you ever been in a horrible training session? Well, what made it so bad? Some of their responses included:

  • “Reading PowerPoint® slides.”
  • “Too much information.”
  • “This is irrelevant to me.”


Rients agreed. “You need to focus on one or two key things, otherwise you’re going to lose them,” he says, and “if they can’t figure out what’s in it for me, it’s going to fail.”

Compliance Doesn’t Make Money

Rients admits that compliance doesn’t “make money”—but you can lose money if you ignore it. “Good enough” isn’t good enough, attention to detail is paramount, and every employee plays a role. If you don’t take care of the little things, will the customer (or inspector) wonder what else is going on?

With so much at stake, it’s important to replace bad habits in compliance training with good ones. Rients says the following actions must be taken by trainers:

  • Engage. Greet trainees with music or videos right off the bat to get their attention.
  • Inform. This doesn’t have to be dry and boring. Games can inform more than reading off of slides.
  • Interact. Build a simulator for compliance-related situations, let trainees practice, and show them the worst case scenario for noncompliance.
  • Inspire. Show trainees an alternate outcome to the worst case scenario, and ask them to do something great.


That last point is important—you need to call people to action, says Rients.

Experience: The Hard Teacher

Rients then quoted Vernon Sanders Law: “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.” Compliance is boring stuff … Until it isn’t. Whether it is a competitor or other bad actor trying to breach your security or a compliance watchdog ready to pounce, Rients warns that entities exist whose goal it is for us to fail!

Complacency is more common and more dangerous than maliciousness, says Rients, and compliance training isn’t just following the rules or “do this, do that.” It’s of vital importance, and “vital” means life.